SGA plans to engage more students with new senator chairs and events

By Mateusz Janik, Staff Reporter

Camilla Forte
(From left) SGA executive board members Ashley Moore, Kierah King, Jori Roberts and Anna Baumeister discuss plans for the upcoming week.

With an eye toward broadening its focus, increasing networking opportunities and providing better outreach to students confronting mental health issues, the Student Government Association kicked off its 2019–2020 academic year. SGA also wants to strengthen the relationship between students and administration, and establish a foundation for students to advocate for themselves.

“I want to [make] as many students aware and [know] what’s going on on campus,” said Kierah King, senior dance major and SGA president.

SGA plans to focus more on Columbia’s individual academic schools by transitioning away from department-based student senators.

Hoping to engage more students with a broader focus, this will include the School of Fine and Performing Arts, the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Media Arts.

This move comes after a low turnout for town hall meetings, as attendance was not required for department chairs, King said.

To combat low attendance, SGA will continue to use social media and start an email newsletter for students where they can get updates on town hall meetings and events that senators are organizing.

“It’s all about seeing what the students want [and] what the students need. Columbia is a very art-based school and there’s nothing but student work,” said Jori Roberts, junior radio major and SGA executive vice president.

SGA also plans on including more events throughout the year focused on networking and student engagement.

“I’m going to do an event geared toward freshmen to engage them and understand our campus because it is a different generation,” King explained. “We have this new, beautiful Student Center and there’s a lot changing, and I want to go with the change rather than go against it.”

SGA keeps in close contact with administrators through monthly meetings with President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim and Dean of Students Sharon Wilson-Taylor.

Students also have the opportunity to interact at senate meetings.

Anna Baumeister, a sophomore comedy writing and performance major and SGA vice president of finance, plans to add more events around campus that offer students the chance to perform.

“We even invite Dr. Kim to come to our meetings,” King said. “We have administration come in throughout the semester as guest speakers to connect with the students and give a more personal connection rather than just over email.”

SGA will also introduce a mental health senator, collaborating with departments and organizations around campus.

“It’s always been something that people have dealt with,” King said. “I really would love to create a space for students to feel that they can come and express that and not always have to go to just counseling.”